Never Wait At An Empty Intersection Again

Eric Jaffe heralds an “emerging-vehicle-to-vehicle technology” called Virtual Traffic Lights:

The basic world of Virtual Traffic Lights operates like this: as you approach an intersection, your car transmits data, such as location and speed, to other nearby cars. The virtual system processes this information for all the cars in the area, with the help of a lead car that changes every cycle, and determines your individual traffic signal. Instead of seeing a red or green light hanging in the intersection, you see it on your windshield and stop or go accordingly.

The project was partly inspired by nature:

In simulations, the algorithm managed the flow of cars in a way similar to how insects manage themselves. In ant and terminte colonies, the large group always gets to go first. … As soon as the biggest group cleared out, the next group was allowed to go. Through the simulations, the scientists found that traffic drive time was reduced for urban commuters by 40-60%.